Joe And His Technicoloured Servers

Dear Father,

I don’t have much time, my sentencing is in a few days, so I will cut to the chase. I am sorry for not speaking to you or Benjamin throughout all of this. I have sent him a separate note… But now that I’ve had some time to think, I want to tell you about recent events from my point of view; from the way I have experienced things; in contrast to the secondary tales from social media (like The Net- I have much to say about them later).

As you know, your son, my older brother, has been spreading the news that I was attacked by a wolf and that I may never return. The wolf of insanity. He has told you all that he tried to help me, but I was dragged away by this fiend.

Well, now I am writing to you from, ahem, a well, if you like, only it’s covered in bars and there’s no water except for offerings in plastic bottles. And, by the way, a wolf did not attack me. I was not ravaged and eaten, with just the tatters of my sanity left, news of which the Net has cleverly spread around the world. I am well in myself and still have hope that an appeal will be offered by the courts.

But I must tell you this, father, that everything that I have done, up to this point, is to execute my duty; to perform my job to the best of my ability. And my duty led me to fall into an underworld, or, to be more precise, threw me into a net, which turned out to be an intricate web, and there are no wolves here, nor spiders; this web is one of many isthmuses, where oceans meet, where skies bleed into space, where there is no night or day.

Let me explain.

My recent investigations have prompted me to question every fibre of my certainties. And the questions for you, my dear father, are these: do you believe that there are hidden forces at play in the world? If the answer is yes, are these forces good or bad? If bad, can these forces influence human beings in their everyday behaviour? And here’s an interesting one: can these forces bleed into the technologies we have produced, for infernal ends? Can these codes that we load into machines carry a malignant presence? Can the objects we use and abuse be tainted with our and other presences? Have we lost control of these machines and codes, which may take on a benign or evil life of their own? Or an obsession? Where are these networks leading us to? A utopia of consumer connections? (Ads- which we think we control…) Or an underworld of dichotomies (Black versus White; Male versus female; Believer versus Infidels; Reality versus the Virtual…)

Before this sounds like The Demon Computer Programme, just listen to this.

Those murders. The Muslim worshippers in Dangford; the Christians in Braxford; the Jews in Eddlebury. I don’t care what your elder son says, but there is a clear link between the three killers. All had binged on The Net before the attacks. All of them had watched R-Rated, despicable videos. All had several hours of usage in the days before the murders. And, notwithstanding The Net’s pitiful charitable contributions to the areas affected, its user subscriptions rallied in the coming days. Lots of people made lots of money. Lots of investors, lots of new accounts, lots of gold…

But what of the human cost? And what of the investigation?

There was clear evidence that The Net had some influence on the behaviour of these men.

And here’s where the underworld comes in: I have evidence that one programmer in The Net, or a group of them, or something deeper, deliberately targeted these vulnerable men for a specific purpose, which I will lead up to.

Dear father. You may be hearing my brother’s voice now and the others… His mind got ravagedThe wolf took him away… But I know you are wise enough to make up your own mind and evaluate what your own son has to say.

No one has heard this hitherto. But in all stages of the investigations, I have had the most fascinating dreams! And to make things weirder, others around me dreamt of connected things that could not just be a coincidence.

When the first murders took place, that night, and we questioned the guy who attacked the mosque, I dreamt of a great, dark building, which I entered. Once inside, I could make out rows and rows of machines, with blinking, colourful lights. Then I awoke, in the early hours.

Strange, I thought, but didn’t think much of it.

Then the second attack at the church. Same thing, we arrested and questioned the guy that night, and I dreamt of something again. I was back in this building with the great, flickering, technicoloured server machines. This time I heard a rather abrupt voice shout in my ear: “27584 rack 80”. The dream ended; I awoke, sweating. What on earth did it mean?

At work the next day, an officer was celebrating her 27th birthday and a colleague had excitedly told me he had bought a new house, number 584 Rakaty road. I kid you not father, if you want to check, you can ask my friends, detective Summerville about the birthday and Sergeant Kennedy about his new house. I was struck by the numbers: 27 and 584, as well as the name, Rakaty, sounding much like, Rack 80.

This could not be a coincidence. Then your elder son came to me about troubling dreams he was having about weird buildings and colourful machines… I listened to him, fascinated, but did not tell him about my own dreams. We were both involved in this case. He was my superior officer. I didn’t think it wise to share with him at the time.

So I began thinking, this must be a message from a deeper force, especially as others were also manifesting traces of it. But I hesitated to act.

Tell me, my dear father, what would you have done in this situation? You can ask your elder son, when my behaviour seemed to change- it wasn’t as early as this. I was fully in control of my rational senses.

It was the Anti-Jewish killings at the synagogue and the third arrest, in which I felt my self really falling into a new reality. This time, that night, my dream went a step further. The dark, vast space, the flashing, iridescent lights, the number 27584, Rack 80. But then, the voice gave me a name, that gave me chills for no good reason: “Mark Fredericks: the pure ways,” echoed the voice. I think you probably know where this is heading now…

This time, that early morning, while you and mother slept, I googled this name and found one entry which took my breath away. Mark Fredericks- Coder extraordinaire. His website revealed that he worked on for The Net. Most of his social media posts were private, except for a few, which included some rather hateful material- but nothing to send alarm bells ringing. But his face told another story. Slick hair, sharp features, pale and arrogant. Something was not right. What on earth did “the pure ways” refer to?

I surmised, despite the incredulity, that these dreams were somehow a cognitive anomaly or precognition that was giving me insights on the case I was investigating. I had heard of detectives who had consulted psychics before, but for me it was my own dreams, which I interpreted were leading me on in this case.

The next few days, I pulled all the information I could on the online behaviour and activities of these killers who we had in custody. All of them had watched several hours of extreme content on The Net. And here’s the scary part: each killer in their statements said one of the reasons they killed their victims was to bring back “the pure ways.” You can see this for your self if your elder son lets you see the statements… I thought I had something and presented it to my “superiors”. They laughed and said I was just causing trouble as the killers were in custody, had confessed and my theories had a hint of conspiracies about them. I could tell by their faces they were already beginning to discredit me, including my elder brother.

But I was positive there was a link between these killings, The Net and this man, whom you all now know: Mark Fredericks.

I knew that I would never be able to prove a link so easily, so this is where I had no choice, father. The underworld is a dirty place, and to navigate a way through, you must get dirty yourself. So, I kept Fredericks under surveillance, without official clearance, or should I say your elder son’s clearance. I followed him, bugged his home, hid some cameras. Wrong and illegal I know. For this, and what followed, I must ask for your forgiveness along with the community’s. But you must understand, I was being led by and interacting with forces of the unknown, which none fully understand.

Now what I’m going to tell you may sound incredulous, but I can back this up with audio evidence. I have these USBs drives hidden away, and when the time is right, I will release them to the world…

I staked out Fredericks’s flat on that fateful night, listening via the hidden microphones. But on this night, I couldn’t believe my ears. I had clear visuals of him, from the room across the street and in his rooms. He was standing in the middle of his flat, seemingly unaware he was being watched. He was speaking, not to anyone else, not on the phone, but to himself. Or more accurately to something else….

I watched him and I listened. Thank God I recorded both things. He said things like: “what should we do?” Then, with his own lips he spoke, but a different voice spoke out of him, not human, not anything like I had heard before, it was more like an electrical impulse of a voice that spoke from him. It said: “Code and code, they kill and kill, spark the fire, raise the dawn of the new era, only when they kill and raze, will return the old pure ways”. It was unmistakeably electrical and unnatural this voice, which came out of his mouth. I looked around on the other cameras for anyone or thing which could be causing this voice, but nothing. This voice came through him. The conversation went on. Now he spoke with his natural voice:

“Yes, I am coding, yes, they have killed, yes, more will join the killings. But what if someone finds the server. What if they check? The trail will lead back to me?”

The unearthly voice spoke: “You must go tonight to 27584 and keep it moving onwards amore…”

I froze there and then. It hit me. I understood the meaning of my dreams. This precognition was telling me what had occurred here. This Fredericks was involved in something beyond our realm, perhaps the same realm as these dreams were coming from. But it was clear to me- he was up to no good. He was the link between the killings and the Net. Perhaps this server contained evidence of coding or activity targeting those vulnerable men, coaxing them with videos and images that would spur them into infernal action. It seemed as if the voice yearned for blood and a new era. I surmised that there would be more killings. The country was already bubbling with talk of race and religion wars- The Net and the other social networks were rife with it. The government had tried to keep this all down and bring people together, well they appeared to anyway. But The Net would not accept any criticism of their platforms. In the world of the free and the land of the brave, people could choose what they watched and what they believed.

Suddenly, the conversation stopped from the other side of the road. I looked through the camera. Fredericks was looking straight out of the window at where I was sitting. It was impossible for him to see me, but I had a hunch that he knew something was afoot or perhaps the other voice knew.

He left his apartment deep into the night. I followed, confident he had not seen me. We drove into the night, through the city, until we reached the outskirts and the industrial zone, until he pulled up in front of a great warehouse… Outside a shiny name and logo framed the security fences: Property of The Net.

My dear, dear, father! I knew I had seen this place before, three times, in my sleep! Fredericks had disappeared into the building, through security. And I now had some choices to make. Either I leave and keep my curiosity and nerves on edge all night, or I follow him and see what is inside….

I could not resist- this pathway in the Underworld had led me thus far and I had to follow it down. Creeping through a passage into the grounds, I made it to the warehouse in which Fredericks had gone. Keeping underneath the security cameras, I climbed through an open window and it was then that I truly realised that I was not in Wonderland nor going insane. This was the vast room of my dreams, and around me, covering the size of a football pitch were server machines, of various sizes, glittering, shimmering, glowing in a million colours, behind glass coverings. It was cold in there, and I could see my breath. The darkness and vastness juxtaposed with the colourful lights was rather eerie. Fredericks was nowhere to be seen. But what caught my eye was a number that I could see on the server glass before me: 27550 Rack 80. This was it. As I walked and saw that the corresponding servers were in number order, I rushed along, 27560-70-80 and stopped.

I was now looking at a tall server, some 12 feet, lights flashing furiously, number 27580 rack 80… My dreams had not been in vain. Suddenly I felt a horrible chill, the same dread I had felt listening to the electrical voice. There was something ominous about this server. The more I looked at it and its intricate, flickering lights, the more I felt some deep-seated hatred, a rashness, a seething malice in its lights. It seemed like it was working itself into a frenzy unlike the rows around it which flickered rather innocuously.

Then I felt a tap on my shoulder- the pale face of Fredricks stood there, he grabbed me by the neck and held me up with superhuman strength.

But it wasn’t his voice that spoke, it was the other. And it sneered at me with these words:

“He will code, and they will code

Until the world around implodes

Clicks and users make the gold

More and more come to the fold

When the poor all go insane

And the rich smile far away

Then will come the old pure ways.”

All I can remember then is a great thump to my head and darkness. I awoke to smell paraffin on my clothes, and I arose behind the warehouse, which was on fire. Fire engines surrounded the warehouse; security men flanked me, and the police arrived. My car was found to have petrol bombs hidden in the trunk and I was being charged with criminal damage and attempted murder of The Net personnel, including Mr Fredericks. Coincidentally, the next morning, after my laptops and phones were confiscated, various conspiracy videos, links to Fredericks and links about The Net were found on my online activity. And despite the fire, The Net did not go offline for a second; its resilience process kicked into action.  

I don’t have to spell out to you what happened, my dear father.

And so there it is. My older brother thinks I have been eaten by a wolf. The people think I have lost my mind. But I leave it to you to decide, father.

And I will leave you with this thought, about The Net and the other networks which pervade our worlds, our homes, our senses. Their interfaces are a thin barrier; an isthmus between worlds; if you penetrate and fall through, what will you find?

Well, this is what I think you will find father, gold…There is gold, father, an obsession for gold, servers and networks shining with gold. And that voice; that realm desires a return to the old pure ways. What are those old pure ways? The rich ones live high up in the clouds, on top of the pyramid and the poor, down below, wander aimlessly in the network. They can not penetrate their realities because they too desire gold and wish to scale the pyramid like the ones above.

And now that voice is free and working in the codes, father, working through the codes, through the networks, through the lights, through the servers, every day and every night, sending us the links we want to click, urging us to act out our wildest dreams…. Waiting for the old pure ways…

I have done nothing but to tell you the truth as I experience it, and I have hope that one day, I will be free to tell my story to you and the real world, face to face.

Best wishes, and love to you, Benjamin and to all my elder brother, despite all that he has done to me.

Your son,

Joe

x

This entry was posted in Commentary, Sci-Fi, Short Stories, supernatural by Novid Shaid. Bookmark the permalink.

About Novid Shaid

I am a Muslim writer and English teacher. I have written poetry, short stories, a play, and I am currently working on a novella. My subject matter and themes are related to Islam, Sufism, politics and also my job as a secondary school teacher. My work is copyrighted and any works published here may not used or copied without my prior consent. You can contact me via the "Contact Me" page, if you wish to use any these writings. I am keen to gain the notice of publishers and if any are interested in my writings, please contact me via the "Contact Me" page. Was salaam, Peace

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